Much like an expert sculptor, diamond cutters are skilled artisans capable of transforming a natural rough stone into a polished treasure. The process of cutting a diamond is highly technical. A great deal of analysis is needed to ensure that the light, weight, and colour of the stone is retained and that the symmetry and proportions are correct. Whilst modern day technological advances have aided the cutting process, it is ultimately the technical knowledge and skill of the diamond cutter that produces a beautiful gem from the raw mined material. Below are some of the most popular diamond cuts, from the Georgian period to today.
One of the earliest diamond shapes originating from Europe was the Rose cut. Characterized by a flat base and only 24 facets to the domed top, it creates a gentle and subtle brilliance. Popular in Georgian and Victorian jewellery, these stones dazzle in candlelight and other low lighting conditions.
Old European cut
Cut to maximize weight and colour, the old European cut was most popular between 1890 and 1930. Faceted by hand with 58 large facets, these stones also have a substantial culet and crown with relatively smaller table. These proportions create fire within the stone, which refers to the dispersion of coloured light. Like Rose cuts, old European cut diamonds are faceted by hand and rely on cutter instinct rather than precision.
Round Brilliant cut
The modern round brilliant cut diamond has over 56 perfectly aligned facets that reflect light in a breathtaking display of brilliance. The cut utilizes thinner facets and a larger table, resulting in optimal scintillation and maximum brilliance. The modern round brilliant cut has been the most popular diamond shape in recent years, accounting for approximately 75% of all diamonds sold internationally.
Perfected by Russian diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan in 1957, the oval cut is an elegant and unique alternative to a round cut that also displays exceptional brilliance. Whilst these stones return white light to dazzling effect, they can sometimes fall victim to what is known as the ‘bow tie effect’, or a dark shadow in the centre of the stone.
With origins in the early square ‘French’ cut, the Princess cut was developed in 1980 and has a distinctly contemporary feel. The square shape has over 50 chevron shaped facets and a unique pyramid form, making it one of the most scintillating square cut diamonds available.
What is now known as the ‘emerald cut’ was not developed until well into the Art Deco era in the 1940s. This timeless and elegant cut is suitable for high quality diamonds of a high colour and clarity. In place of high brilliance, the emerald cut has a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect due to the long linear facets that create distinct flashes of light.
It is said that the marquise cut was developed when King Louis XV of France commissioned a diamond to resemble his mistress Madame de Pompadour’s lips. Modern marquise cuts typically feature 56 or 58 facets and have the largest surface area of any cut. When balanced correctly, the marquise cut reflects light almost as expertly as a round brilliant cut diamond.
BETHANY MCGOUGAN / Head of Fine Jewels & Timepieces
Banner Image: 18ct Two-tone Gold Marquoise Diamond Cluster Ring by Kozminsky